12 November 2021; Covid – A worried Europe; Krauts winning again; A pretty neo-Nazi; Local non-progress; ‘Net 50’ in the UK; Palabras inglesas robadas; & Other stuff.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Dawn%2BBox%2BDay%2B2015.JPG
Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops
Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

Covid  

I cited yesterday the claim that central Europe was complacent. Possibly no longer the case in Germany, given the numbers cited in the article below..

Cosas de España/Galiza

After Brexit imposed obstacles on UK buyers, Germans(10%) have for the first time bought more properties in Spain than Brits(9%). “The British used to spend longer periods in Spain and that drove demand, but now their stays are limited and it shows in the market,” said one estate agent/realtor. As developments down South show, the locals aren’t happy about the loss of income from Brits – whether buyers or merely tourists – and are seeking changes to current EU-imposed laws. Probably with little chance of success.

One of the spokespeople of Spain’s neo-nazi far right – Isabel Peralta – is a pretty young woman, pictured recently giving the fascist salute while insulting Jews and Muslims. Why, I wonder, is it so instinctive to believe attractive people are good and trustworthy? Whatever, it’s a great boon to handsome con artists, of course. 

It’s been announced again that we’re soon going to have an expansion of the small industrial park at the bottom of my hill, on this side of the river from Pontevedra city. The usual big names – eg. Decathlon and LeRoy Merlin – are cited. To my knowledge, the first such announcement was made 15 years ago but ‘bureaucracy’ – and possibly a fight between the Pontevedra and Poio councils – has hindered progress. And might well continue to do so for the next 15 years. 

Which reminds me . . . The local police in Pontevedra have just moved into new offices. Which have been empty and available to them for, would you believe, 15 years. They probably lacked a document or two to prove their right of occupation.

The UK

Richard North here takes issue with what he sees as the UK government’s ineffective virtue-signalling to the rest of the un-listening world. While dealing the UK economy a serious blow.

If you live in the UK and think the UK government should put its Net Zero plan to the public and justify its serious economic consequences, then this is the petition for you.

Germany

Thanks to Mrs M, Europe’s leading economy is not exactly in the van when it comes to eliminating coal and turning back to the nuclear option. Or in avoiding reliance on Russia for energy. Something has to change.

France

The UK has been having a higher-than-usual level of problems with France, partly because this suits President Macron’s re-election campaign. I’m reminded once again of the fact that, whenever European business folk opine on which other nationals have been the easiest and the hardest to deal with in the previous year, the best varies from year to year but the worst is always France. Which must say something.

(A)GW

Is the science really as ‘settled’ as many claim it is? This podcast features one eminent scientist who doesn’t think so.

Reader Perry has (rightly) queried the claim that Spain emits 45% of the world’s pig-fart methane. Confession: I should have written ‘45% EU-wide’, not ‘worldwide’. These are said to be the porcine populations around the globe, in millions:-

China 407

USA 151

EU 77, of which Spain is 31.4, or 41%. The leading regions, by far, are Aragón and Cataluña, with Galicia near the (curly?)tail.

The Way of the World/Quote of the Day

No one knew the “allergy community” existed, until its members started calling for the cancellation of Peter Rabbit, after being horrified at a gang of bunnies throwing berries at a character with a blackberry allergy. 

Spanish 

HT to Lenox of Business over Tapas for the citation of this La Razón article which lists the 10 most popular words ‘robbed’ from English. Needless to say, each of them has a perfectly serviceable Spanish equivalent. But lacking in sexiness:-

Casual  

Catering

Marketing  

Test  

Light 

Celebrity

Casting(mis-used for ‘audition’ ) 

Busted(Beefsteak)

Suéter(Sweater)

Cóctel(Cocktail)

Then there’s:- footing(jogging); spinning; lifting(face-lift); paf(pub); jeentoneec(gin tonic); cool; click; esmoquín (dinner jacket; water/váter (WC) and others I can’t recall OTTOMH.

Finally  . . .

Facebook is still relentlessly suggesting I join gun-dog groups and I’m still being asked several times a day if my ‘settlement check’ – whatever that is – has arrived. The internet is not an unalloyed positive.

This blog can be seen on Twitter and on the Facebook group page – Thoughts from Galicia.  

If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. 

THE ARTICLE

We’ve lost control of Covid’: Winter gloom beckons for vaccinated Europeans. A fourth wave of coronavirus is threatening to engulf the Continent with record high case numbers and states of emergency declared by health authorities: Oliver Moody, The Times

At precisely 11.11am today, with barely a facemask in sight, the dense crowd in Cologne’s Zülpicher Strasse counted down the final seconds and greeted the opening of the Rhineland Carnival with the traditional cry: “Five, four, three, two, one: Alaaf!”

The mass of revellers, in astronaut, Viking and Mexican costumes, bounced up and down as one, some sitting on one another’s shoulders, others downing cans of beer or shaking street signs, much as they had every mid-November over the decades before the pandemic struck.

Yet this November is not like the others. This morning the Robert Koch Institute, the German government’s infectious diseases agency, registered a record 50,196 new Covid-19 cases over the previous 24 hours. Until this month there had never been more than 33,000 in a single day.

A fourth wave is rolling across a vast area of northern, central and eastern Europe, stretching from the Adriatic and the Black Sea to the Arctic Circle. This week Norway, Finland, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia all reported their highest daily infection rates to date. Meanwhile, while the UK infection rate is decreasing, it is still four times that of France, averaging about 170 Covid-19 deaths per day compared with fewer than 40 across the Channel.

Bulgaria recorded 334 Covid deaths on Tuesday, the largest number yet, prompting the government to declare an emergency and beg its fellow European Union member states for oxygen and hospital beds.

The south German state of Bavaria has announced a “state of catastrophe”, with its intensive care system on the brink of collapse. Across the southern border, Austria is threatening to impose a full lockdown on the unvaccinated by the end of the week.

“This is a real emergency,” Christian Drosten, 49, one of Germany’s most eminent virologists, said on his weekly podcast. “We’re worse off than we were a year ago.”

Up to now the conventional wisdom in many of the affected countries was that they had moved into a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. States with relatively high immunisation levels, such as France, Italy and Portugal, have so far been spared the worst. Those that have struggled to jab their populations, such as Slovakia, whose vaccination rate is below the global average, are suffering the consequences.

Part of the appeal of this reasoning was that it provided grounds for a degree of comfort, or even for political complacency. It implied that the fourth wave would rage among the unvaccinated and then by and large burn itself out. It would, in other words, be containable.

There was no need to pay too much heed to the infection rates and there would be no need for universal lockdowns. Those who had done their bit and got the jab could carry on with their lives much as before. That wisdom is now beginning to look questionable. There is evidence from German hospitals that vaccinated people have gone from making up scarcely one in ten of the patients on their Covid wards to nearly half.

This is partly because the vulnerable people who were first in line for the jab are now seeing their immunity wane, raising the risk of “breakthrough” infections.

There are other reasons to be concerned. “The Delta variant has reshuffled the cards,” Drosten, one of Angela Merkel’s most trusted scientific advisers, said. “Soon it will very swiftly become transmissible among the vaccinated. “So we have a situation here where the virus can spread throughout the whole of society, and its spread is in fact bolstered by vaccinated people. That’s what we’re seeing at the moment.”

Germany may well be on the cusp of its most harrowing months yet. If the present trend continues, its intensive care units, depleted by a shortage of nurses, will be full within weeks and it will record its 100,000th Covid death in less than a fortnight.

The vaccination centres are closed. The free rapid tests offered by the state were abolished a month ago, although they may soon be brought back. The much-admired contact-tracing system has gone into meltdown. A booster vaccination campaign is underway but so far only 3.3 million doses have been administered.

The federal government, caught between the twilight of the Merkel years and the beginning of a new three-party ruling coalition under Olaf Scholz, has been slow to respond and has few decisive options left on the table, having ruled out a return to lockdown.

“We’ve lost control,” Alexander Kekulé, 63, a professor of medical microbiology and virology at the Martin Luther Halle-Wittenberg University, said on his podcast. “Really the politicians have long given up the battle on a number of different measures. And the virus is rejoicing, if I may put it like this, and cheerfully replicating.” Kekulé believes that Germany will be left with no alternative but to impose a lockdown in all but name, with schools closed and public and private gatherings strictly regulated. “Actually, I think they will do something like a lockdown through the back door. They won’t call it a lockdown, because that’s become a taboo in politics,” he said.

Germany’s neighbours are faced with much the same dilemma. Vaccination and general weariness in their populations have made lockdowns politically unpalatable. Yet inaction is out of the question.

Austria, with one of the highest infection rates in the EU, has already banned unvaccinated people from bars, restaurants, cinemas and other public venues. This morning Alexander Schallenberg, 52, the new Austrian chancellor, said they would be subjected to much more stringent controls within days.

The Netherlands registered a record number of Covid infections today, 16,364, breaking previous highs from December last year on both the daily and weekly average figures. The surge in cases comes as the Dutch government discusses advice from health experts that the country needs “lockdown-like measures” in the last two weeks to arrest spiralling infection rates. Ministers will discuss cancelling large indoor events, and shutting down cinemas and theatres, with earlier closing times mooted for restaurants and cafes. The country’s Covid pass will be tightened up to include only people who have been fully vaccinated or those who have recovered from the virus, therefore excluding people who have had a negative test but are not yet jabbed.

2 comments

  1. It’s funny. I used to read Peter Rabbit stories to my kids and I have absolutely no memory of one where blackberries were thrown at anyone or indeed, anyone having allergies. Except maybe Peter Rabbit himself falling for the soporific affect of lettuce.

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